The Van Trump Report

Record High E15 Sales at Risk Without Summertime Waiver

Sales of E15, a 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline blend, are estimated to have hit a record 1.11 billion gallons last year, an increase of +8% over 2022, according to a Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The RFA credits the jump to a combination of more retail stations offering E15 and the savings the blend continues to offer. While the new sales record is welcome news for the industry, RFA warns that the future sales of E15 beyond May is uncertain.  

As there are no official statistics on national US E15 volumes, RFA uses data released by state agencies in Minnesota and Iowa. RFA says national sales can be estimated using just those two states given they account for nearly 30% of all US stations offering E15. More than 3,000 stations offered E15 on average throughout 2023, compared to 2,700 in 2022. The full report is HERE.

E15 sales have gotten a big boost over the last five years thanks to waivers issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allowed states to sell the blend during the summertime. In 2019 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule allowing E15 to be sold year-round, whereas many retailers had previously found it difficult or impossible to offer E15 in the summertime due to US regulations. Unfortunately, that ruling was vacated in 2021 and has complicated E15 access ever since.

Eight states later petitioned the Biden administration to grant waivers that would allow for year round E15 sales. The EPA agreed to the states’ request earlier this year. However, EPA delayed the effective date until 2025 citing  “concerns over insufficient fuel supply.”

Those eight states have still been allowed to sell E15 year round the past two years thanks to “emergency waivers”  which allowed when “extreme and unusual fuel or fuel additive supply circumstances exist,” such as has been the case since Russia invaded Ukraine.

At the end of March, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, and National Sorghum Producers, asked the EPA to make an E15 waiver effective on May 1, ahead of the driving season. However, the Biden administration has so far not taken action.

Since allowing access to E15 in the summer, sales have climbed from less than 300 million gallons sold at roughly 1,400 stations in 2018 to last year’s record 1.11 billion sold at an estimated 3,025 stations nationwide. If the Biden administration fails to allow year-round sales in 2024, RFA warns that E15 sales will drop precipitously in most of the country this summer, as occurred in conventional gasoline areas before 2019.  

A group of nearly 1,000 farmers, ethanol industry workers, and other supporters recently sent a letter urging the administration to allow E15 sales this summer. “Allowing gasoline blenders and retailers to sell E15 this summer would help moderate prices at the pump, extend fuel supplies, and deliver relief to American families at a time of year when gasoline prices typically are at their highest,” the letter states. “Today, E15 is selling for 10- 25 cents per gallon less than standard E10 gasoline, allowing the average American household to save $125-200 on its annual gasoline bill.” (Sources: RFA, DTN, NCGA)

FILE PHOTO: Choices at the gas pump including ethanol or no ethanol gas are seen in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

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